THE BALTIMORE SUN
Jewelry shopping? Here's a list of dos from the Jewelry Information Center, a nonprofit association promoting the jewelry industry (www.jewelryinfo.org):
UAsk your friends for jeweler recommendations -- don't just blindly pick one -- and check their reputations with your local Better Business Bureau.
UAsk to have the quality mark on gold (noted in karats), platinum (usually stamped "PLAT" or "950 PLAT") and silver (sterling is typically imprinted with "925") pointed out to you along with the manufacturer's trademark, if the piece was made in the United States. Its presence is required by law and means the maker stands behind the metal's grade.
UIf you're choosing from loose diamonds, ask to look at them on a sheet of white paper; it's easier to see any contrasts or imperfections.
UIf you're buying pearls, look for strands with knots in between each pearl (if the strand breaks, the pearls won't fly all over and get lost).